Staff Pick: Forensic Nurses – Fighting Sex Crimes in South Africa

Forensic nurses assist victims of sexual crimes in South Africa, through counselling, physical examinations and testifying against perpetrators. Despite their high success rate in convicting rapists and abusers, forensic nursing as a profession faces extinction.

Directed by Simisola Jolaoso



Q+A with the filmmaker

For this month’s Staff Pick spotlight, we are thrilled to highlight the important short doc, Forensic Nurses – Fighting Sex Crimes in South Africa. Directed by One World Media Fellow, Simisola Jolaoso, the film tells the story of the forensic nurses who play a vital role in helping rape survivors in South Africa, and the funding crisis that threatens the future of the profession.

We spoke to Simisola about her experience making the film, the One World Media Fellowship and things she has learned along the way.


Why did you choose the story for your project?

It’s a story I’d wanted to tell for a long time, but I wasn’t sure how. I am familiar with the environment, having lived in South Africa for 9 years until 2013. I am passionate about this topic because it almost became normal to hear on the news, nearly everyday, about a child being raped by her father, or boy being raped by his uncle, or grandmother being gang-raped and killed. It disgusts me how much of a norm it’s becoming. So if society, the government or I can do something, anything about it, we should. Making a film to bring awareness of how forensic nurses can help combat the alarming high-levels of sex crimes, is one way I believe I can.


How did the One World Media Fellowship help you make your documentary?

The Fellowship from OWM was a vital step in going from being a student to a professional. Having someone believe in my idea and in my capabilities enough to give me money for it gave me a huge confidence boost. The support I received was very valuable, including editorially, emotionally and professionally. Knowing my mentor was always available and willing was great. She was patient with me when I was still trying to figure out my narrative. The rest of the One World Media team have also been really great to work with.


What was the most challenging aspect of making your film? How did you overcome this?

One of my main challenges was pinning down the narrative. Certain aspects of my film remained unclear because they were dependent on external factors hindering my access for filming. With my OWM mentor’s help I was able to form my narrative around what was available to me.


What was the most valuable thing you learned during the process?

Through the process of making the film I developed additional organisational and time-management skills, especially when working on my own on location. I grew to understand how to interact with others within sensitive situations. Thanks to a number of workshops and sessions hosted by OWM, I also picked up some helpful pitching techniques.


To what extent has being a part of the One World Media Fellowship encouraged you to pursue a career in filmmaking?

I feel, after this first production, I can now tackle other mediums and improve as I go along the journey to becoming a broadcast journalist and work on other ideas for documentaries. It has definitely encouraged me to further pursue a career in filmmaking. It is something I have wanted to do, but was never sure if I’d be capable of it. The Fellowship has helped me to realise that my ideas are worth pursuing and I can implement them with the right support.


Simisola’s story was picked up as a feature on The Guardian.

View more films on OWM Presents.


Filmmakers and journalists, stay in the loop! Sign up to our newsletter to be the first to hear about our latest Fellowship, Awards and workshop opportunities:
Sign up now